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Monday, 7 June 2010


It’s Monday and I’m Taiwan. I spontaneously jumped on the plane to get a little weekend away. A had a friend I wanted to catch up with and to go check out the surf. I’d never surfed taiwan before but had heard good things.

Figured I’d go recon the deal-eo.

Super easy set up. The flight’s only and hour and a half and you can be in the water an hour after grabbing your luggage. So I guess you could catch the morning flight, surf by lunchtime and get the evening flight back and it would actually be an easier trip than going to dai long wan (big wave bay in sai kung).

I’m now in the business class lounge waiting for the final call. Not that I'm traveling business class, I just have a card that gets me access. Who pays for business class for an hour and a half flight? Always wait until the last minute to get on the flight, I never understood why people raced to the line up so they can be first to sit down an hour before the flight leaves? Why would you want to be in that shitty economy seat any longer than you absolutely have to?

The lounge is full of business people. Mostly men. They all look similar. Bad trousers, polo shirts and laptops. They grab handfuls of whatever is available at the buffet; grey, tiny sandwiches, tiny bowls of peanuts and glasses of coke. There’s a little 'it's free, go crazy' frenzy to it.

The guy behind me keeps coughing, he is a Chinese guy, 50, with a fat belly with his trousers pulled far too high by a black leather belt and a shiny buckle. He has a phone clipped to the belt and the plainest shoes I’ve ever seen. He chokes his way through another little bun and wanders across the room and stares revoltingly at the only woman in the lounge. She doesn’t notice this as she’s engrossed in her laptop.

Another guy wanders in and has the exact same outfit and look except a slightly different pattern on his polo shirt. It must be some secret salesman uniform.

Flying always makes me sentimental. Perhaps it’s the disconnect. You have to turn off your phone and laptop and suddenly you’re alone with your thoughts, sat with strangers, snorers and babies screaming.

I remember good things. Loves, adventures. I remember other flights, beginnings, trajectories. Flying is a commitment. A decision to follow a path. There's no way off half way through.

The seat is small and the food is awful (so I don't eat) but I never forget how wonderful it is to be in a little chair in the sky, flying from one country to another. I always enjoy the flight no matter how shitty the service is, or crappy the plane is, it’s still an absolute luxury to fly. Every take off I've ever experienced has been a wonder.

On the plane I'm sat next to the same girl that was leered at in the lounge. She asks me what I'm reading and we start to talk. The conversation lasts the entire flight. She's a Taiwanese girl who studied in Boston and is now working out what to do with her life. She wants to produce window displays. She tells me she's planning to go for an interview but she's worried they won't give her the job because she's small and they'll think she can't handle carrying the decorations around. I tell her not to make assumptions, that she may the perfect candidate because she is small as there's not much space in windows. She smiles broadly.

When I get back I have to go straight to work at the studio to carry on with overdue commissioned paintings. I also have to continue to deal with the aftermath of Hope and Glory. Endless accounting, quantification, collating and documenting.  I also have a lot of people to thank, acknowledge and reward.

I read the paper, there’s an article about the artist Louise Bourgeois. She died last week. She talked about her work being psychoanalysis; that it was a way of coming to grips with her anxieties and fears, an attempt to be a better person.

I feel the same way. Through my work I can do something worthwhile, something meaningful. I can be a better person.


  1. Beautifully written Simon; particularly the bit about flying.

  2. i couldn't agree more about flying. i always feel so reflective in airports or in airplanes. because it's either the beginning or the ending of a journey. i like to be alone. some people don't like to fly on their own. i almost think i like to be alone so i can really take it all in. give my mind a chance at catching up with my body that is being catapulted through time and space. i like to write usually and just soak in whatever i am feeling. i also like airports because i think about how many different people from different parts of the world are in one on a given day. and then i think about the many emotions filling the air. joy, sorrow, excitement, anxiousness, uncertainty,love, anger, the list could go one forever. flying is a gift and it's so humbling. and yes a commitment - never thought of it that way, but i love that. perhaps the most committed most of us will be to anything on that day. whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. *